Thursday, November 27, 2014

November 17th-23rd Training

Monday: 9.7 miles (6:42); 6.3 miles (7:44)

Tuesday: 8.2 miles (7:29); 8.5 miles with strides (6:42)

Wednesday: No running. Started coming down with something…headache, congestion, super-worn out

Thursday: 8.4 miles (6:32); 7 miles (7:08)

Friday: No running. Same stuff as Wednesday but worse and I also lost my voice.  Took a nap and then slept for 11 hours.

Saturday: 17 miles (6:52) +1 mile at the cross country meet (I'm counting that crap). Ran the 11.2+5.8 loops with Brock Baker.  Those loops are insanely hilly and probably Max King approved.  Felt pretty drained and then felt like death afterwards.

Sunday: .8 miles (7:30)

Week Total: 66.9 miles. Was shooting for 115+ but the sickness came for me.  My throat started getting really sore in California, so the travel wore me out or something.  Everyone at work is catching it, so I'm not too much of a sissy.

Monday, November 17, 2014

November 10th-16th Training

Monday: 9 miles (7:04); 6.3 miles (8:07)

Tuesday: 7.9 miles (6:59); 7.6 miles (6:59)

Wednesday: 10.1 miles with 9 mile medium progression. Ran each three mile section in 18:13 (6:04, 6:11, 5:58), 17:07 (5:45, 5:40, 5:42), 15:53 (5:20, 5:16, 5:17).  Felt pretty smooth and had some strong winds but since it was an out and back on only two roads, I had a nice tailwind as well; 6.8 miles (7:20ish)

Thursday: 6.1 miles (7:26); 9 miles (6:40)

Friday: No running. Spent the day traveling and a nap when I arrived seemed more appealing than a run.

Saturday: 19.6 miles with Temecula Half-Marathon in 71:26. The course didn't have certification this year and old faithful marked it as 13.28. Course climbed for four miles, dropped for 6.5 and then climbed the rest of the way.  Ran with Ryan Cosens until about 10.5 miles when I surged some and broke away.  I died on the last mile but was able to hold the victory.  The pace felt really easy on my lungs but my legs never felt good at all and I was flat the entire time.  I guess all of the traveling and racing is catching up with me.

Sunday: No running. Traveled home and sitting on the couch sounded better than running in the pitch black with 35 degrees and raining conditions. 

Week Total: 82.4 miles. Another yo-yo mileage week but not bad for five days of running. And if you take out Sunday, I had 102.4 for the past seven days, with runs on six of those days.  I think all of the traveling and racing is catching up to me, so that's the last long race for a while. Granted I never had a flat out race but running a lot of higher effort and high volume sessions without much of a base catches up with you.

Indy Monumental Marathon Rabbitting Duties

A few months ago, I committed to pacing the 2:18 group at the Indy Monumental Marathon.  I had the same duties a year prior and it went well.  I wasn't too worried because it's a blazing fast course and usually has ideal weather. And if I were in somewhat decent shape, running 20 miles at 5:15 pace would be a great training stimulus.  But after a terrible summer and a dragging butt early fall, I bailed from my duties.  The last thing I wanted was to have to race 20 miles all-out, run too slowly and let the other guys down.  In races, you just run for yourself, so you really don't impact other runners.  But when you're pacing, you hold other runner's destiny in your hands.  And that's not something I wanted to do unless I were pretty confident that I could do my job.

But the Rock N Roll St. Louis Half-Marathon went better than I thought and a couple days later, I received an email from the race staff asking to reconsider.  I'm usually a pushover and after changing my duties to 30k instead of 20 miles (would 1.4 miles really make a difference?), I was back on board.

But with a few days to go, the weather forecast was looking terrible.  Yeah, the upper 20s/low 30s temperature was actually pretty decent, but the strong wind from the north wasn't.  Especially since you run mostly north for 13 miles of the marathon course.  I was really worried that would destroy me, so I emailed back and forth with the race staff acting like a whiny baby.  I had a narrow time range I had to hit in order to get compensated and I thought the wind would be the 2x4 that destroyed this camel's back.  I was now back in my pre-St. Louis scenario in that I didn't want to race 20 miles, come up short and let down other runners in the process.  But I was going to try anyway, even though it seemed like a potentially disastrous idea.

After arriving in Indy, I checked into my room and then was off to the athlete meeting and met the crew of guys who were counting on me to pull them through 30k on pace: Michael Eaton, Tyler Andrews and Brandon York.  They were also worried about the wind but we agreed to re-evaluate things in the morning.  I also met up with Steve Chu, who put a whooping on me at Bolder Boulder and his buddy Nick Purdy for dinner at Rock Bottom Brewery.  I knew I should probably eat something a little carb heavy but the macaroni and cheese was 14 bucks and the brisket stuffed hamburger sounded much better. 

My biggest dilemma on race morning wasn't the weather but what to wear.  I'm a diva with this kind of stuff and I looked around to see what others were wearing since I'm pretty insecure.  I was leaning towards a t-shirt with arm sleeves but everyone else seemed like they were going with a singlet and arm sleeves.  Since I'm easily peer pressured, I decided to go with the singlet as well and was hoping the 18 degree wind chill wouldn't be too bad.

The race plan was to go with 5:15s at the start because we would have the half-marathoners to draft off of.  When they turned off a little over seven miles into the race, I'd slow to 5:20s until the tailwinds arrived.  It seemed like a pretty decent strategy and compromise.

I knew the biggest issue would be the half-marathoners making the initial pace feel too easy, so I was really going to concentrate on the pace and rhythm.  When the gun went off, everyone shot off with the 2:18 crew right on my butt.  If I went out too fast, it'd be hard to slow back down.  But if I went out too slow, the group would be a little antsy, which may result in me yo-yoing the pace.  And to make matters worse, solar flares or the buildings or something was screwing up my GPS because it was reading 5:35 pace.  But alas, the first mile marker arrived and I went through in 5:14.  Not bad!

While I was planning on having a steady stream of half-marathoners to pass/run with, the race developed into two very distinct packs with the group I was leading about 10 seconds behind the front pack after the first couple of miles.  That meant I would have to battle the winds a little more than anticipated.  But while we were downtown, the buildings created a swirling effect, which gave some unexpected tailwinds in some areas. So I will blame running the next four miles between 5:11-13 on that. 

At this point we would run down a struggling half-marathoner every once in a while and were finding our rhythm. Steve Chu was also helping out with pace some, which helped me keep the right rhythm. The first fuel table was going to be somewhere around 10k, so I gave the people behind me a heads up to look for it because last year, they would really sneak up on you.  My only gripe with the race is that they only use one table, so you have about 15-20  bottles on a small, square table which makes it nearly impossible to find your bottle while humming along at race pace.  Eventually I saw the table and after scanning every bottle as fast as I could, I grabbed what I thought was my Tum-E Yummy bottle.  But this one was covered in some lame Frozen stickers, so it wasn't mine.  I asked the group if it was anyone's and since no one claimed it, I took a sip of what looked like water with dissolved gel but my stomach wasn't having it, so I dropped it.  I later found out it was fellow Nashvillian, Joey Elsakr's.  And the worst part is that I was the one who talked him into using those bottles. My bad.

Joey in an egg race?  Now you see what Obamacare has done to Vanderbilt's Medical School curriculum.

When the half-marathoners broke off, we saw a lone Kenyan, who turned out to be Edward Tabut, about 20 seconds ahead.  Over the next few miles, we locked into 5:15-5:16 pace and were slowly reeling him in.  When we caught him, instead of tucking into our pack, he didn't want us to pass and shortly afterwards, threw in a long, hard surge, which put a big gap on us. I didn't have any background info on him but thought he was either going to be a stud at win easily or have that move come back and get him later.

Stolen off Lindsey Hein's instagram. Brandon, ?, Michael, Tyler, myself and gloveless Edward

At 20k, the second fuel table popped up and I decided to not even look for my bottle.  I didn't want to grab the wrong one again and by skipping the fuel, I wouldn't be tempted to finish the race.  Not very logical but it seemed like a good idea at the time.  We went through halfway in 69:03, which was right on pace.  I thought for sure, we would have tailwinds after this and we would click off 5:10s with the same effort but that never happened and we were running the same splits. Bummer.

And at this point, the pack was slowly falling apart until it was just me and Brandon York chasing Edward.  He was getting a little bit antsy and would check his lead after every turn and watch us.  Eventually I decided to give him a friendly wave the next time he turned around and caught him around 16-17 miles.  I crossed the 30k with Edward in 1:38:17 with Brandon five seconds back.  Since my duties were officially over, I stopped and waited for Brandon and then ran with him for a little under a mile.  I could tell he was hurting and starting to crash, so I told him to try to stay as smooth as possible and not try to fight it yet.  When you start to hit the wall, there's no winning, only losing less.  And if you fight against it with over 10k of running left, it will get very ugly.

I jogged the last half mile to the 20 mile mark, where I expected to meet my ride back to the start.  Tyler went by me a little while later, followed by Michael about 200m or so behind Brandon.  At this point, I thought the Kenyan had the easy victory and wasn't sure how the other guys would place because there was still a lot of racing left. 

At the 20 mile marker I saw a bunch of kids in their mid 20s dressed up in costumes and cheering on the runners.  They offered me a beer and since you should never turn down a free beer, I accepted. I hung out/shivered with them for about 30 minutes before I realized I probably missed my ride that was supposed to take me to the finish.  I was agitated that I now had to jog another 6.2 miles to the finish and I went on my way.  That is until I saw Jamie Dial a few seconds later who saved me and gave me a ride back to the finish.  Yeah, I had to sit in the back of a hatchback that wouldn't shut all the way, which included a trip down the interstate but the possibility of death by road rash sounded more appealing than finishing up the marathon.  Even if I got a cool medal.

After making it back, I found out that Micheal Eaton won in a time of 2:19:49 to outkick the Kenyan by eight seconds with Tyler right behind.  I was amazed he rallied back that hard and was also surprised that the Kenyan died so badly.  I would bet nearly anything that cute little surge he did when we initially caught him cost him the race.  I think Michael was bummed about his time, but considering I heard he had a pit stop, and with the weather, I feel like it was easily a 2:18:00 performance.

Overall, I consider it a pretty good day for me.  I ran 30k at just over 2:18 pace without fuel or water and felt like I could have gone to 22 fuel-less miles until I was over 5:20 pace.  I felt bad that no one knocked out the OTQ but it was just one of those days.  Tyler was actually using the race for a long run at just slower than marathon pace in prep for CIM in a few weeks.  I believe the long fast run is an underutilized workout for elite/sub-elite types and is a great way at preparing for the marathon distance, especially 5-6 weeks out from your peak race. Brandon had a first rough dance but that's how the marathon can be.  But I expect to see Michael, Tyler and Brandon in LA in 2016. You can click on their names and ready Tyler's and Brandon's race recaps.

Even though I stole his first fuel bottle, Joey ran a phenomenal marathon debut to finish in 2:24 (which was his goal before the weather went to crap) and he also had the fastest last half-marathon in the entire field even though he was mostly solo.  I was also happy for my friend Wade Oliver who ran a five minute negative split to run a lifetime best of 2:47 at 47 years young.

Even though the weather was rough this year, the race normally has stable weather and you'll have a hard time finding a faster marathon course.  I feel it's the perfect race for the person trying to get a OTQ, BQ or a PR.   And the thing I appreciate about the race is that they do an excellent job of supporting the emerging elite and always make sure there's a competitive race up front.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

November 3rd-9th Training

Monday: 9 miles (6:43); 6.3 miles (7:03)

Tuesday: 11 miles with 10.18 medium at 5:39 pace. Wasn't sure how I'd feel after the 30k at 5:16 pace, but it felt pretty smooth and controlled.  Even decided to be a man and run up the 1km hill instead of stopping at the 4-way stop.

Wednesday: 9 miles (6:32); Busy day, cold and raining so I punked out on the second run

Thursday: 10.1 miles (6:08). Decided to run a little faster than normal easy. Super windy; 7.6 miles (6:55)

Friday: 8.8 miles (6:53); 6.2 miles (7:41). Was dragging butt for some reason

Saturday: 8.7 miles with 2.94 miles in 14:58. Jumped into a 5k but it was majorly short.  Windy and hilly, so kept around 5:00 effort as a shortish tempo.  Felt pretty flat today; 6.8 miles (7:04)

Sunday: 20 miles (6:12). Really smooth and easy.  Wore long-sleeves and only checked my watch after every mile split.

Week Total: 109.8 miles. Not bad since I was shooting for around 110.  Happy with how quickly I recovered from last week and trying to get extra sleep and two massages a month has really been helping out.  Next week I'm running the Temecula Half-Marathon, which is my fourth half in eight weeks.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Fittish Article on Yuki Kawauchi

When I first heard about Yuki Kawauchi, I thought he was one part insane and one part a moron.  He was not only racing a high quality marathon pretty much every month but running world class times.  I always thought he should back off to the cliche 1-2 marathons a year and try and pop a 2:05.

But everyone has different motivations and running well is the combination of being in shape not only physically but mentally.  Sometimes the correct training is what appears to be incorrect physically but works well for the individual athlete's mind. Being in great physical shape is worthless if the mind isn't ready to follow.

But after reading the Fittish article on Yuki Kawauchi a few days ago, I understood and somewhat related to the reasoning why he does what he does.  He doesn't want to follow the normal Spartan way of distance running where you hide out in the woods for months on end only to pop out a couple of times a year.  If he did, he wouldn't enjoy it and would be racing much more slowly.

He brings back a little bit of that old Japanese Samurai Bushido and I'm definitely a bigger fan after reading the article. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

October 27th- November 2nd Training

Monday: 9.7 miles (6:44); 5.5 miles (7:02)

Tuesday: 7.9 miles (6:32); 5.3 miles (7:07)

Wednesday: 9.4 miles with 12x1:00 on/off. I felt fast and like I was moving quickly but I only averaged about 4:47 pace on the fast portion.  But I tried to keep it controlled, so I'm not that mad; 6.3 miles (7:15ish)

Thursday: 7 miles (7:00ish).  Had a massage after Running Club, so I couldn't get in a second run.

Friday: No running. Travelled to Indianapolis and had no time.

Saturday: 20.5 miles with 30k at 5:15ish pace. Paced the 2:18 group and with a 14 degree wind chill, with 15 mph winds, I was pretty nervous about it.  But I felt good running and went through 10k in 32:29, half in 69:03 and 30k in 1:38:17.  Unfortunately, no one got the qualifier.  I'll write a recap this week.

Sunday: 6.8 miles (7:16). Hip flexors are completely shot but other than that, everything feels great.

Week Total: 77.9 miles. Super low volume week but I had a great session on Saturday.  I really think I could chase my PR with a month of training and that's with no structured and consistent workouts since last December.  But Im not going to race a marathon until I'm ready to run really fast..hopefully that's in April.  This week, I'll run mostly base training type stuff and get in some decent volume, which I'll continue to increase for the next 4-6 weeks.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Rock N Roll St. Louis Half-Marathon

Wow, that was a busy weekend.  On Friday, I drove three hours to Knoxville for the Elementary State Cross Country Championships. It was our first year there and the girls finished fourth, with the boys seventh (they were missing two of their top 3).  And the impressive but frustrating thing was that our school has no fifth graders.  But it was a great experience and after the race, I had to drive back to Nashville so I could hop on a plane and head to St. Louis for the Rock N Roll Half-Marathon.

My only goal for the race was to win a little bit of money.  Individually, money only went to the top finisher.  But they also had time bonuses for sub 67, sub 66 and sub 65.  Since the course had a fair bit of climbing, sub 65 was out of the question.  Even if I ran on the short and downhill Stanford track, I don't think I would be able to pull that off right now.  I thought sub 66 would be too tough, so my goal was to shoot for 5:05s and hang on to run under 67 minutes.

My flight was only an hour and I arrived at my hotel shortly after six.  My roommate for the night was NAZ Elite runner Ben Bruce.  When I heard he was racing, I told the elite coordinator to move his room to Ferguson but since he was actually running the full, I didn't mind him staying close to the race.  I've always been a NAZ Elite fan and appreciate the info they put out there.  I also like the simplicity and effectiveness of their training and sometimes I steal some of their ideas when I put together my own training.

Race morning, I woke up around 4am and stole some of Ben's coffee and oatmeal and ate a Powerbar.  The weather was an ideal 40 degrees, which would make the sub 67 chase a lot easier. After jogging around for a couple of miles, I did my usual drills and was ready to race, other than being too lazy to knock out any pre-race strides.

To be honest, I was expecting to just chase the clock and wasn't too worried about anyone else.  Not because I'm a cocky jerk or anything but because I heard there weren't any other guys going for the time bonus in the half.  I knew the first few miles contained some climbing, so I was reminding myself not to get frustrated if I have a few 5:10s early on because the downhills would come.

Thousands filled St. Louis streets early Saturday morning
Jimmy Bernhard, KSDK-TV

The first mile looked worse on the elevation map than it felt and I came through a hair under 5:00 with a guy right on my butt. He was a persistent little bugger as he was still there at two miles even though I sped up to a 4:56 split.  I was worried I was running too fast, especially on a rolling course. But the pace felt smooth and I decided to somewhat stick with it because it would hopefully drop the other guy and my main goal was to win since the overall win was worth more than the sub 67. The whole killing yourself but hoping it kills the other guy first idea.

But this dude would not die and through the next few miles, he was never more than five seconds behind me.  Normally when you gap someone a few seconds, they hang in that position a mile or two and then get mentally broken and give in.  This guy was going nowhere, which made me keep things honest and pushed me but it also worried me a little bit.  I wanted time to mentally relax some and focus on the pace and splits instead of worrying about the guy not too far off my shoulder.

The rollers continued and I hit 5k in 15:36 with a three second lead and went through 10k in 30:43 and had a six second lead.  Well, the timing pad was a good bit ahead of the 10k sign, so it was really like 9.9k or something if you want to get fancy.

The hills were starting to get a little bit tough.  I wasn't going into oxygen debt or anything and still felt strong but instead of just focusing on my running, I would always think , "dangit, here comes another hill'.  My negative thinking must have stole my mojo because I ran my three slowest miles of the race consecutively and I went from about a ten second lead to having the guy pull up beside me.  Right when he did that, I had a flashback to the night before when I told Ben that I would go home depressed if I ran 67:01 and got second.  I did not want that to be reality, especially since all of my cross country kids knew I was racing today and they'd probably ask me how it went.  Who wants to let down an army of third and fourth graders?

When he pulled up beside me, I decided to stick with him no matter what.  It also gave me the mental kick in the butt I needed and made the increased pace feel a little bit easier.  It felt like he did a small surge or two but I wouldn't give him any room.  When you're behind someone then work so hard to catch them, it's really mentally draining. Normally in those cases, you catch the dude and pass him.  But I was hoping he didn't expect me to hang with him. I wanted him to get some confidence and underestimate me a little bit and then hopefully shatter his dreams right when the time was right.
Hopefully someone gets this picture

My plan was to wait until the last mile and try to throw down something really fast.  But about 11.5 miles in, I decided to surge down a long downhill and dropped a 4:52.  I ended up putting about five seconds on him over that half mile and continued to stay somewhat on the gas.

With about a half mile to go, I had about a ten second lead but I started getting a really bad side stitch.  Not one of those cramping things but the ones that feels like gas pressure or something, which was probably a result of my Philly cheese steak and fries from the night before.  I was hoping it wouldn't get worse and cause me to slow down enough to give Zachary some hope and adrenaline for a final push.

But I was able to manage it OK and it was time to make the final turn, which turned out to be a right instead of the left I took.  I only lost a couple of seconds and was back on track until fail #2.  There was a divider fence to separate the two races.  Everyone was on the left side and someone told me to go to the right, so I did.  Whoops, wrong side.  I slammed on the brakes, backtracked a little bit and was in the right lane.

Thousands filled St. Louis streets early Saturday morning
Running in the wrong lane;
Jimmy Bernhard, KSDK-TV

I didn't know how fast I was running.  I knew I probably had sub 67 sealed and figured I was around 66:30 or something.  When I saw the clock not too far ahead, I saw 65:40. I turned on the boosters because I didn't want to run 66:00 and miss out on some money, and crossed the line in 65:52 feeling pumped.

I struggled to run 67:XX on a flat course eight days prior and I ran over a minute and a half faster on a much tougher course, with an easier effort.  Maybe this 65:52 would have been like a 64:30-65:00 on a flat course with an all-out effort.  I was also happy I didn't die on the hills and it seems like over time, I'm becoming much better at them in races when they used to be my kryptonite. Hopefully this is a sign of good things to come because while I ran much faster than expected, I don't feel like I'm in "shape" at all.

Thousands filled St. Louis streets early Saturday morning

I was also really impressed with Zachary Meineke, the second place finisher.  He ran about a two minute PR and only runs like 50 miles a week.  If that guy gets in some good winter training, he will break 65 next year.